How to Grow Bell Peppers in Your Basement
Growing bell peppers in your basement is an excellent way to have fresh produce year-round. With the right setup, bell peppers can thrive indoors and provide a continuous harvest. Here’s everything you need to know to get started growing bell peppers in your basement.
Choosing Bell Pepper Varieties for Indoor Growing
When selecting bell pepper varieties for indoor growing, look for compact plants that will fruit well in containers. Some great options include:
Red Knight – Early maturing red bell with good flavor. Compact plants.
Orange Blaze – Brilliant orange color. Medium-sized bell shape. Good for containers.
Sweet Banana – Yellow elongated fruits. Very sweet flavor. Does well in pots.
Early Jalapeño – Compact jalapeño plant. Good spicy flavor for indoor growing.
Avoid large bell pepper varieties like King Arthur or Big Bertha as they require more space than typically available indoors. Stick to compact varieties under 1 foot tall.
Providing Proper Lighting for Bell Peppers
Bell peppers need lots of light to grow indoors. Provide 14-16 hours of high intensity lighting per day. Here are some good lighting options:
LED grow lights – Use full spectrum LED grow lights. Position the lights 6-12 inches above the plants.
Fluorescent lighting – Compact fluorescent bulbs can work. Use warm color temperature (2700K) bulbs. Place the lights 2-3 inches from the leaves.
High intensity discharge (HID) lights – HID grow lights like metal halide or high-pressure sodium provide intense light. Keep these 12+ inches above the plants to avoid overheating.
Make sure to raise the lights as the plants grow. Maintain the recommended distances from the lights to the tops of the plants.
Using the Right Containers for Bell Peppers
You’ll need containers at least 12-16 inches wide and deep for bell peppers. Here are some good options:
- 5-10 gallon plastic nursery pots
- Fabric grow bags
- Wooden boxes or crates lined with plastic
- 5+ gallon buckets
Use containers with drainage holes so you can water without saturating the soil. For smaller pots, you may need to water daily. Bigger containers can go 2-3 days between waterings.
Best Soil and Fertilizer for Container Bell Peppers
Bell peppers need well-draining, nutrient rich soil. A good potting mix with compost works well. Or make your own mix:
- 1 part compost or worm castings
- 1 part perlite or vermiculite
- 1 part peat moss or coco coir
Mix in a granular organic fertilizer like 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 before planting. When the first peppers form, use a tomato fertilizer or soluble organic nutrients every 2-3 weeks.
Ideal Temperature and Humidity for Bell Peppers
Bell peppers grow best at temperatures between 65-85°F. Luckily this range is easy to maintain in most basements.
Use a thermometer to check the temperature around your plants. If needed, use a portable heater or air conditioner to keep the temperature in range.
Humidity around 50-70% is ideal. Use a humidifier if the air is too dry. Avoid drought stress by watering consistently.
Pollinating Bell Peppers Indoors
Outdoors, wind and insects pollinate peppers. Indoors you need to hand pollinate.
When flowers appear, gently shake each flower cluster daily. Or use a cotton swab or soft paintbrush to transfer pollen between flowers. This ensures good fruit set.
Supporting and Training Container Bell Peppers
As bell peppers grow, support them with cages, stakes, or trellises. This prevents branches from breaking under the weight of fruits.
You can also train bell peppers to maximize yields in a small space. Try these techniques:
Topping – Pinch off the main stem above the 4th or 5th set of leaves to encourage branching.
Pruning – Remove extra branches and any flowers/fruits below the fist fruit set to focus the plant’s energy.
Trellising – Trellis plants vertically using strings attached to the main stem. This saves space and improves air circulation.
Avoiding Pests and Diseases
Growing indoors reduces many pest and disease problems. But keep an eye out for:
Aphids – Check undersides of leaves for these small sucking insects. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control.
Fusarium and Verticillium wilts – These fungal diseases cause leaves to wilt. Avoid wet soil and crowded plants.
Blossom end rot – Caused by inconsistent watering. Keep soil evenly moist.
Remove any diseased or heavily infested leaves immediately. Catch problems early to keep plants healthy.
Harvesting Bell Peppers
Bell peppers mature 7-10 weeks after flowering depending on the variety.
Check fruits frequently as they near maturity. Harvest peppers when they reach full size and color for your variety.
Use clean pruners or a knife to cut peppers from the plant, retaining some stem. Enjoy your homegrown peppers!
With the right setup and care, you can grow thriving bell peppers indoors for months of fresh peppers. Just provide ample light, use suitable containers, control the temperature, support the plants, and harvest peppers at their peak. In no time you’ll be growing piles of peppers in your basement garden!